Located among the many Korea restaurants along Duxton Road is Monte Risaia, a quint little restaurant with a contemporary rendition of traditional Japanese dishes. The dark interior is Japanese with a classic wooden counter but the smart use of warm lights makes the space comfortable.
We tried the 4 kinds of Signature Course(SGD 98.00) and were quite wowed by some of the dishes. To start off, we were offered crusty and crunchy breadsticks with a side of olives. This was certainly not something you see at a Japanese restaurant. The breadsticks and olives were a good starter and it would pair well with the many selections of Sake and wines there.
1st course – Starter
We started the official 4-course dinner with the signature Uni pudding. Our guess was that this is an interesting take on the traditional chawanmushi but in the visually beauty serving bowl was clam jelly. The generous piece of Uni had a very clean and mild flavor initially but it brought a deeper umami seafood sweetness that built contrast against the clam jelly.
We continued with a cauliflower soup served in a little espresso cup but we would have however preferred a larger serving of the soup. We liked the freshly cracked black pepper that gave a little kick to the thick and creamy cauliflower soup but we had hoped to see something more sophisticated.
2nd course – Assorted Appetizer
We were quite entertained by the chefs that plated the appetizers, seeing how they very calmly cut up each ingredient and assembled in a very zen manner. We started with the Sakoshi Bay Oyster with sweet horseradish sauce, which was not at it’s prime, personally, I did not like the flavor and felt that it tasted strange.
The raw scallop marinated with avocado and ikura was much better with the creaminess of the avocado going very well with the scallop. The ikura added a nice salty umami pop and left us wanting more. The fresh Prawn Arrabbiata was cooked perfectly and the Hamichi Sashimiwas perfect. My favorite went to the Prosciutto di Parma with fresh tomatoes and rocket, a dizzle of truffle oil and shaved cheese. The Italian flavors shine with each component having an intense pop.
3rd course – Shiso & Omaru Dashi Pasta
Tender would not be a common word associated with pasta but the noodles were cooked to that level. The amazing texture is accompanied with a tomato-based sauce that is enhanced with rich broth. The interesting Japanese fusion here is the combination of Japanese shiso leaf and parsley. The amount of herbs was just right and didn’t overpower the dish. We would have liked to see some seafood thrown in for good measure.
4rd course – Today’s Meat
We got to try two different meat dishes, the Aging Akagi Wagyu Ichibo (Additional 20SGD) and the Maple Leave Duck. The glistering wagyu was cooked perfectly medium rare and the excellent marbling ensures that each bite was juicy. Flavoured with freshly grounded black pepper and salt, each bite provided a very clean and natural flavour. For a slight change of flavour mob up some of the aged balsamic vinegar for a sourish and tart kick.
The maple leave duck had a very unique texture similar to the likes of pork. The very clean and natural flavour of the duck came through with the bite of the meat but the fatty skin of the duck is where the flavour flowed with each chew. We really loved the Japanese style of preserving the freshest and the original flavours. This is well reflected in both of the meat dishes.
We ended dinner with a coffee caramel ice-cream sitting on top of a spoon of tiramisu and garnished with red dragon fruit and mint leaves. The rich in-house made ice-cream was deeply satisfying and brought a good end to our meal.
Other dishes in Monte Risaia’s side menu include Cheese or Cold Cuts Platters ($18 – $20), Risotto ($24), and Burrata Cheese ($24).
Monte Risaia provides a fresh take on the Japanese-Italian fusion Omakase experience. Be prepared for a intimate evening where food will inspire and the limited seating(about 12) at the counter ensures the food quality is closely controlled. There were some hits and misses but overall worth a visit.
59 Duxton Road
Tel: 6970 0067
6:00pm – 12:00am daily